Juan Cuadrado has joined Juventus on a season-long loan deal from Chelsea, thus prompting thoughts of a new formation for the Serie A champions.
Double-winning coach Massimiliano Allegri has been forced to compensate for the summer departures of stars including Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.
Pirlo previously ran the show from a deep-lying position, while Vidal would patrol the line between midfield and attack to great effect.
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Sporting director Giuseppe Marotta has been searching high and low for suitable replacements, which has so far proved only partially successful.
Forwards Mario Mandzukic, Paulo Dybala and Simone Zaza have all been recruited in a bid to offset the loss of Argentine hit-man Tevez, but voids remain where the other top-class performers once stood.
The Bianconeri began out with a 3-5-2 formation during defeat to Udinese, while they regularly utilised a variant 4-3-1-2 set-up on several occasions last term.
A conspicuous lack of a creative playmaker was starkly evident, as the Old Lady lost a home match for the first time since January 2013.
There’s been ongoing talk of a ‘trequartista’ – or traditional number 10 – being drafted in to place emphasis on a specific attacking midfielder to play the all-important killer passes. But, despite Marotta’s best efforts, that decisive role is still unfulfilled.
Therefore, Cuadrado doesn’t only represent a valuable addition to the squad, who will simply slot into a tried-and-tested tactical formula; it could herald an entirely new direction for Allegri’s men.
Juventus have put a great deal of faith in the dangerous Mandzukic from Atletico Madrid, but didn’t possess the quality of delivery, or pace down the flanks, to make the most productive use of his major attributes.
The Croatian is powerful in the air and holds the ball up with ease, while he also has that uncanny knack of arriving on the end of pinpoint crosses into the box.
Within a 4-3-2-1 formation, Juve’s width came from the full-backs Patrice Evra and Stephan Lichtsteiner, or it often meant Tevez being forced out wide.
It all worked beautifully with a diminutive player such as the Argentine leading the line, but the Bianconeri now have a genuine target-man in their midst.
Similarly, the 3-5-2 layout relies heavily upon wing-backs – essentially defenders – getting into the final third. Now, though, they can look towards Cuadrado for inspiration on the right wing.
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The Colombian international holds an impressive record in Serie A, even though he wasn’t afforded the opportunities to display his skills at Stamford Bridge, making just four starts since joining from Fiorentina in February.
He struck on 26 occasions in 106 appearances for the Viola, whilst assisting a further 21 goals for others, during his two-and-a-half years spent wowing crowds in Florence.
Cuadrado is a clever dribbler and invites fouls from opponents, which in turn leads to threatening set-piece situations.
His pace also allows him to venture into areas of the field where he can cause serious damage, thus giving him the chance to aim a cross for a teammate, or have a shot at goal himself.
English Premier League football fans certainly haven’t seen anywhere near the best of the 27-year-old, but he could be tailor-made for a Juventus side only just getting to grips with the absence of an integral trio who are sorely missed.
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